24 March 2010
Life, Death, and the Afterlife: King Tutankhamun
Egypt was ruled by kings and queens called pharaohs for centuries. It was believed in Egypt, that as long as a king’s name was remembered, he would live for all eternity. King Tutankhamun is one of the most famous kings of Egypt that is known today, but he is more known for what was found in his tomb than for who he was. Although King Tut only ruled for barely a decade, the world has been trying to uncover the stories and secrets pertaining to his rise to the throne at only nine years old, his untimely demise at the age of eighteen or nineteen, and what was left to be ...view middle of the document...
In her book, Edwards also assumed that King Tut would have worn a false beard attached to his chin like all the pharaohs did, carried a crook, which looked like a cane, and a flail, which looked like a whip. “They were symbols of his power,” but being a child he didn’t really have very much power (9). As indicated by Michael and Mary Woods, authors of the book The Tomb of King Tutankhamen, “the boy king” would have had advisors that were back then called “viziers.” King Tut’s vizier was named Ay and he “made most of the decisions about how to run the country” (6). It was thought that Ay killed the Tut in order to marry his widowed wife and become king. He did end up marrying Tut’s wife “before King Tut” was “even buried in his tomb.” It was speculated that he destroyed all records of King Tut’s burial (16).
What really killed King Tut? Ever since the discovery of his tomb, there have been many stories floating around about the how he actually died. An article from 2006 posted on the National Geographic website by Stefan Lovgren stated that scientists had determined with a CT scan of the body that he was not murdered but had died from an infection caused by a thigh fracture (1).
On 17 February 2010, CNN posted an article on their website called Malaria, genetic diseases plagued King Tut written by Val Willingham. This article stated that Dr. Zahi Hawass, an Egyptologist, and “researchers used anthropological, radiological and genetic testing to examine Tut and 10 other bodies mummified over a two-year period during Tut's dynasty.” Hawass also discovered through DNA that Tut was the son of Amenhotep III and that Tut was married to his sister. This would have meant that there was inbreeding in the family and it could have caused “serious malformations and diseases.” When the researchers scanned Tut’s mummy, they found a condition called kyphoscoliosis, which is a curvature of the spine and oligodactyly, a condition that causes the foot to swell. This would have created a lot of pain when he walked. Hawass also found evidence of “plasmodium falciparum, a protozoan parasite that causes malaria in humans.” Hawass speculated that these conditions combined with a great fall may have been what killed the young king (1).
However the king may have died, there was still a ritual in which he was sent into the afterlife. In their book, Michael and Mary Woods explain the importance of readying the pharaohs for the afterlife. Egyptians believed that if the pharaoh’s body was not readied for the journey into the afterlife, that his kingdom would suffer (Woods, Michael and Mary 12). So begins the mummification process that takes 70 days, and in Egypt with the weather so hot, things tend to decay faster, so the priests had to work quickly. There is supposed to be a tomb already built for the king, workers were supposed to start on it as soon as he became king, but with him dying so young, the tomb wasn’t complete. They...